The Mills Brothers, a musical group from years ago, used to sing, “You always hurt, the one you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all. You always take the sweetest rose and crush till the petals fall. You always break the kindest heart with a hasty word you can’t recall.”
Why is it that we often reserve verbal slings and arrows for those we love the most and care the most about? Why would we hurt those who care the most for us?
It could be because they have hurt us, and we feel the pain most deeply from those we care about most intensely. It could also be that we feel safe hurting those we love. Though they may grimace from the barbs of our verbal shots, we trust they will recover, forgive, and continue to esteem us.
But we still need to be careful. Chip’s warning is right: if we hurt those closest to us, especially our spouse, the pain we have sown may come back to afflict us as well.
King David was not acting very “kingly,” at least in his wife’s eyes, when he returned to Jerusalem with the ark. He was dancing and leaping with joy before the ark, dressed only in a ephod, an ancient style of undergarment or apron. Dancing with him were many from Israel, including a number of young maidens.
Watching critically from a window was David’s wife, Michal (What is it about David’s household and windows?). 2 Samuel says, “When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart” (v.16).
David had sacrifices offered for the occasion, including burnt offerings for cleansing and fellowship offerings for communal celebration and eating. He gave everyone bread, a cake of dates and one of raisins, and he blessed all the people before sending them home.
Next, he went to his own home to bless his family, but his good intentions were interrupted by a hurt and angry woman who greeted him: his wife Michal. “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (V.20). What was the source of Michal’s bitter spirit? The Bible doesn’t say. Perhaps she was comparing her husband to her father, Saul, who had also been a king of Israel. Maybe she really thought David acted inappropriately. Maybe she was jealous that she wasn’t down there dancing with the crowd and her husband. What ever the source of her hurt and anger, she unleashed it with scathing rebuke and accusation.
For his part, David defended his behavior as worshiping before the Lord, and that if his own wife wouldn’t hold him in honor, other people would.
Then verse 23 ends with a sad note: “And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” The Bible doesn’t say why she never had children. It may be been because God prevented it, or because at that moment David decided he would never function as a husband to Michal, and he never went to see her. Michal remained in David’s extended household, but she never again functioned as a wife. She was alone. As one writer summarized it, “Michal has no future, no claim on Israel, no prospect for life.” (Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Samuel, 252). Very sad.
Michal threw a boomerang. It struck her husband, but it also came back and struck her. Interestingly, the Mills Brothers song ends with a boomerang-type note: “So if I broke your heart last night, it’s because I love you most of all.” I’d prefer they ended their song with, “So if I broke your heart last night, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. Because husbands and wives should honor, rather than hurt, each other. Please forgive me.” It is through forgiveness and breaking the flight of the boomerang that we preserve our relationships and marriages.
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Link to Marriage Mondays.